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assurance that in this strife which is still forced upon tts, ours is the cause of Justice, of humanity, and of the best interests of the human race. It is impossible for honest Christian men to deny themselves the consolation that the great plan of God is unfolding rapidly before us and for our good. In spite of all our faults, it is still true that this nation is precious in the sight of God. His church is planted here in purity and power. From the cradle this nation has been in covenant with God. It is the center of those grand ideas of law and liberty, and Gospel grace, which he is using to elevate the world. And therefore he will purge us from our sins by judgments. He will turn and everturn that right may triumph, and liberty and law; and so make us one in loftier manhood and a grander mission for mankind.
And, as we review the past year, we can see many striking illustrations of the great truth which we have aimed to state, in the vicissitudes by which it has been accompanied.
On the one hand, God has been with us as of old. In our harvest fields, in many of our commercial enterprises, in our national institutions, in our sanctuaries, and in our homes, his hand has been displayed, full of its wonted blessings. On the other hand, we have been perverting these benefactions to uses unworthy and destructive. By our forgetfulness of God; by our lack of lofty principle and steady faith, we have deranged the order which he has established, and have caused these sweet fountains to pour forth bitter streams. As the result, we witness a shadow spread over all the land and hear on every side the voices of pain and sorrow. In a country rent by wild rebellion, shaken by fratricidal war, in a wise government imperilled without cause, and with no hope of profit, in thousands slain and tens of thousands mourning, we can see how man has been destroying in the midst of God's beneficence. Here is the old tendency under a new aspect, and it presents a spectacle which will astonish and confound the world for centuries to
And yet, amid all this, can you not see the helping hand and the loving heart of God, still at work amid these ruins, bringing good out of the evil? "In me is thy help," is his cry to those who stand looking regretfully at the past or despairingly towards the future. By teaching us humility, by bitter discipline, by hallowing our love for a country which has cost so much, by leading us to estimate duty above material comfort, and heroic Christian manhood more than ephemeral success, by interposing with his omnipotence to shield us from our weak and wicked passions, he is displaying his desire to
By such tokens of his good will and generous impulse he is calling us to duty to our country and to his righteous cause. And who so blind that this does not reveal itself to him?
To stand firmly for the right, cost what it may; to sustain everywhere and always the divine authority of government; to turn from the insidious partisanship of politics, and study the patriot's duty in the word of God; to humble ourselves under his mighty hand, and then rise strong in the Lord to sustain the righteous cause; to count no duty painful which leads us in the way of his commandments, and no success desirable which withdraws us from his smile; to stand fn this hour of trial, every where and always, true to the God who sustains us, true to the holy religion which
saves us, true to the government which defends us, true to the life-work which is set before us day by day.
This is our duty, and in this lies our safety and our eternal reward.
In view of these things, let us turn to God wito a fresh spiritual gratitude -thanking him for homes, and friends, and all material blessings—but, most of all, that his loving-kindness is not withdrawn from our country or our souls. For the descent of this spiritual mercy upon our land, our rulers, our institutions, and our sinful hearts, let us humbly and sincerely pray!
For the Prayer-Meeting. The Repetition of Sin.
ONE of the most marked effects of sin upon the human soul is the insensibility which it produces to its own evil. That evil is one that pervades the entire nature; it deranges it, it revolutionizes it, it fills it with jarrings, strifes and anarchy. It sets the passions against the reason, and the will against the conscience. It throws the soul out of its orbit of duty to God and man. It impels it along a devious track, a strange, forbidden way, where sooner or later it must meet the catastrophe of its doom. This is the necessary result of sin-as inevitable as its definition, and yet how rarely or how imperfectly is it noted!
Let us suppose an angel that has hitherto dwelt unsullied in the pure light of heaven, stains his soul by a single violation of the law of right. He does one deed, speaks one word, thinks one thought-and yet but one which he knows to be wrong. Who can take the compass, or measure the consequences of that single transgression? It works, necessarily, an entire revolution in that angelic nature. It affects every element of his being. To his moral sense it brings a kind of paralysis, from which it wakes, if at all, to the keenest anguish of remorse. The conscciousness of the crime is indelible. It puts an impassable barrier between him and the holy blessedness he once enjoyed. It imposes a burden which years and ages can not shake off.
And yet repeated sin hardens the soul against the impression of the guilt and curse. The evil nature of transgression is obscured by subsequent indulgence. No after sin can produce an effect so striking, so startling, so revolutionary as the first.
This does a work of desolation which all after-sin only amplifies and completes.
The first frost of autumn-how its deadly chill in a single night blasts the whole face of nature, smites down its freshness and its verdure, and covers the face of the earth with the pale of death! Wait a few weeks, till winter has completed the desolation, till the last sign of life or beauty has vanished from the landscape, till through the leafless forest the winds sigh the requiem of the dead yearand what is the frost of the night then? The ravage is already too complete to allow its effects to be susceptible. Is it not so with the heart that, under the power of the first marked transgression, felt itself strangely transformed? Then all nature was vocal with condemnation. The rustling leaf gave back the echoes of a condemning conscience. The lightning was a flash from the eye of an angry God. But now sin is indulged in, is relished, and the soul is hardened against the sense of its depravity. The work of desolation is too complete, the moral nature is too thoroughly ravaged, to allow the effect of each repeated sin to be distinctly visible When the heart is palsied, the expiring spasms of the limbs attract but little attention.
How few take note of this dire effect of transgression, the insensibility it produces towards its own evil! Sin tends to annihilate the moral consciousness of the soul, to reduce it to that state in which it is perfectly indifferent to the right or wrong of its own acts. It matters not what form it takes, whether more or less gross, it is a transgression of law, a violation of conscience; every repetition of it tends to complete the work already begun, till man is reduced as near as
possible to the moral level of a block or a brute.
But even at this point he can not pause. Depravity is not merely negative. It does not merely take away holiness; it introduces the elements of perversity; it imposes the character of the demon. Satanic perfection is just the complete ignoring of all distinction between right and wrong, a readiness, whenever the emergency calls for it, to say: "Evil, be thou very good."
How solemn is this thought, that while by sin you ruin your soul, every step in your progress renders you yet more insensible to your guilt and danger. It is as in the infliction of a wound, the first incision stings as it strikes through the nerves spread over the surface, but as the weapon goes deeper, sensation utters no protest; you scarcely feel the more fatal infliction. Is it not wise, then, to pause where you are, to hesitate before you place yourself beyond the sense of your danger, to break off sin by righteousness, and your iniquities by turning unto the Lord? Your insensibility to the evil of your course, is but the earnest of the second death.
Appeal to Youth.
YOUTH is not immortal; though you are young now, you may die while you are young, and if you are still waiting and refusing to embrace Christ and give up yourselves to him, while you hesitate, death may be deciding, and while you may be saying, "Not to-day, Lord Jesus, to-morrow
death may be saying-"Not to-mor row, but to-day; this night thy soul shall be required of thee!" And if this should be the case, and you die unregenerate, unforgiven, having come to years of accountability, having an understanding to judge between good and evil, and a conscience to have warned you of your danger, and having had faithful counsels and every opportunity
if you die in your sins, how melancholy is the consequence! When this glowing countenance, blooming with youth, now withered and decayed, sinks down into all the darkness and gloom of the grave, and the blackness of darkness and everlasting fire gathers around you, then that warm imagination that once painted to itself fairy scenes of future felicity, will be left to riot in all the dreadful conceptions of everlasting misery-what it must be to spend an eternity of agony! Then the memory that might have been the treasury of divine truth, and stored up God's gracious words, will only recall all that will torment you-all your opportunities and advautages, and all your own perverse abuse, neglect and rejection of them all. Oh! why must all the flower of youth go down to perdition? Why must the spring be blasted, and everlasting winter wither the soul? Why must that which should have been consecrated to Jesus, be forever the subjcet of Divine wrath? and he that might have been a rose-bud in the Saviour's crown-his diadem of salvation-be a withered weed cast out to everlast abhorrence and rejection?
REV. JAMES BENNETT. D. D.